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Life didn't go on, that was the first thing we learned. Grudges went on; nightmares went on; paranoia went on and on and on, but life got snagged on the jagged edges of our memories, and unravelled as we walked away. There were ghostly holes in our everyday routines. You found yourself writing birthday cards to dead people, simply because you couldn't get out of the habit of thinking they were alive. When you invited friends round to dinner, you had to remember not to seat them next to the relatives of the people who had killed their relatives. Molly Weasley and Andromeda Tonks got into a bit of a fight that way.

And none of us were really sure what we'd been spared for.

There was the tidying-up, of course. We were kept alive by a desire to ensure this sort of thing would never happen again. We built monuments to the departed. I wrote a biography of Regulus Black, to ensure that his contribution to the victory over Voldemort would never be forgotten. It was top of the Daily Prophet's best-seller list for six weeks, and only got knocked off the top-spot because Antonin Dolohov had become a born-again Christian in Azkaban, and had published a book in which he lamented – in gruesome detail – over his former crimes. Rita Skeeter called it 'a bold, gutsy move in a hostile climate'. Ron and I shook our heads over the breakfast table and knew that it could all happen again.

Perhaps that was why I accepted the internship at the Research Station in Skara Brae. I told Ron it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up, but I had passed up a lot of opportunities since the war – the greatest of them, as Ginny would constantly joke, by marrying Ron.

"You'll have to tell me what he's like," said Ron, shovelling eggs and bacon indiscriminately into his mouth.


"Snape, of course. Who else is out there?"

I told him, rather primly, that the greatest research witches and wizards in the world were out there, but he just snorted.

"He'll think you're trying to do research on him for your next book, you know." He stopped chewing and turned thoughtful. I always felt particularly honoured – in an exasperated way – when he was willing to forgo further shovelling for a conversation with me.

"It's not actually a bad idea, you know, Hermione. Let's face it, if you don't write it, Skeeter's bound to get there first."

"She'd be a charred heap on the floor before she got within ten yards of him," I said, with no small amount of satisfaction.

"Well, there you go, then. If someone's going to tell his story, it'll have to be someone he won't hex on sight. No guarantees there, of course, but he never hated you as much as he hated me and Harry."

I ran a distracted hand through my hair. I was having a particularly frizzy day, so it got stuck. "Ron, did it ever occur to you that he went to the Research Station in order to be left alone?"

Ron grinned. "I reckon he went there because he couldn't stand hearing about Harry's heroic exploits anymore. If he only knew Harry was feeling the same way, maybe they would have started to get along."

"Not a chance," I said.

The Research station was at the ends of the earth. At the Ministry, whenever we got notices from them, we called them 'memos from purgatory'. It was situated in a series of caves beneath the ruins of Skara Brae, a Neolithic village off the coast of Scotland, which was older than the Great Pyramids. The original inhabitants of the village had been wizards, and some of the curses they put on their tombs were still being tentatively investigated by the faculty at the Research station. Despite the glamorous image cultivated by Bill Weasley, curse-breaking was a tedious, time-consuming activity – or, at least, it was if you wanted 'curse-breaking' to be written on your business-card rather than your death-certificate. According to Bill, the curse-breakers of Gringotts had a motto: "Sometimes, you break the curses, and sometimes the curses break you."  

Skara Brae had been chosen as the home of the Research Station because it existed in a field of High Magic Intensity. Nobody really knew what this meant, or why it happened – there were theories that it was to do with electro-magnetic waves – but the upshot of it was that every spell performed in the area was amplified, both in potency and longevity. It was the ideal place for researching the subtleties of magic – because, in Skara Brae, even the subtleties loomed large.

I was only going to be gone for six months, but my goodbyes were still tearful. I think it was because we'd lived through so many near-death experiences – so many battles, massacres, accidents, attacks and disasters – that it would have been mortifying, after all that, if we died in some ordinary, everyday way – if we got Splinched in an Apparition accident, or caught Stygmalian fever. I don't think we trusted fate to leave us alone. For the first year after Voldemort's death, Ron and I clung to each other, hardly leaving one another's sight – hardly daring to breathe out in case it wasn't really over. Professor Snape would no doubt have been highly amused to hear that Gryffindors could be so fearful.

Harry, Ron and Ginny walked me to Kensington station (where the successful applicants for the internship had to gather in a toilet cubicle, ready to take a Portkey to Skara Brae). They surprised me by being very positive about Severus Snape.

People who had never taken Potions classes with him had probably expected the Professor to be quite friendly after Voldemort had died, and his true loyalties had been revealed. Arthur and Molly had entertained ideas of inviting him round for dinner, and finally coaxing a kind word from him about Harry. Molly was convinced he couldn't really have hated Harry – that was unthinkable for her.

But he resisted all attempts to be reconciled, or welcomed into the fold. And Harry hadn't pushed him. Harry liked Severus Snape, but he knew that the only way to keep liking him was to keep well away from him. But, if I knew someone was suffering, I found it hard to leave them alone. They had no business suffering, if there were solutions to their problems. And, if there weren't any, they should keep themselves occupied by trying to find some solutions!   

As you can imagine, this attitude was not greeted with delight at Skara Brae.

At any rate, none of us had really been able to step back into the fold. After watching so many deaths, a normal life – a casual conversation at a bus stop, for example, or a sound eight-hours' sleep without nightmares – just escaped us. Severus Snape was no different. He had just been dislocated by grief a little earlier than we had.  

The only thing Harry, Ron and Ginny told me, again and again, was not to take his words to heart.

"Just don't pay too much attention to what he says," said Ron. "You know you're clever – and he knows you're clever, or you wouldn't be going. Just don't expect him to say it. Or be nice about it. Or be nice at all."

It was – much as I hated to admit it – very sound advice.

There were only four of us squashed into the toilet cubicle at Kensington station, but, at the time, that seemed like more than enough. We got to know one another better than we would have liked as we stood, awkwardly pressed up against each other, waiting for the Portkey to whisk us away. I had a coat-hook pressing into my back, and a stomach full of butterflies which were entirely Professor-Snape-related. In his honour, I imagined they were bats.

Scarlett Nash was from Tennessee – but not Nashville, she told us, with a quickness that made you suspect she told this joke a lot. Helene Verveine was from Marseille, and spoke with a glorious French accent, and Terence Lively was from Portsmouth. He did his best to live up to his name – at the Research Station, he even started organizing basket-ball games – but you suspected his heart wasn't really in it, and that what he really yearned for was a nice cup of tea and a sit down.  

I was in love immediately. They talked about Karl Marx and Keats, as well as Newt Scamander and Bathilda Bagshot. When I told them I had actually met Bathilda Bagshot, they gasped with envy.

"That must 'ave been such an honair!" said Helene.

I hesitated. "Yes. I...well..." Fundamental honesty dragged the details out of me. "She was a corpse being animated by a giant snake at the time," I mumbled.

There was a thoughtful pause. Presumably, they had heard worse.

"Did she talk about her work?" asked Scarlett.

"Um... not really..."

"Did you see 'er 'ouse?"

"Oh, yes."

The delighted envy got back on track. "I would give anysing to see 'er 'ouse!" Helene exclaimed rapturously.

The Portkey took us to a rain-lashed field, under a steel-grey sky which could only be Scottish. It reminded me of shivering in the stands of the Quidditch stadium at Hogwarts. At our feet was a stone stairwell – just close enough for us to have staggered and fallen into it if we'd been less experienced with Portkeys. That was just the kind of welcome I could imagine Professor Snape relishing: "Breaking your ankles already, Granger? Dear me, it said on your CV that you were highly organized."

I couldn't tell whether I was excited or terrified to be meeting him again. He was the one hero of the war who shunned his new-found fame (well, Harry tried to shun it, but he could never manage to make himself as disagreeable as Severus Snape). Hardly anyone was admitted to Snape's presence without a Doctorate in Magical Theory or a letter of introduction from the Minister of Magic (in some cases, you needed both – particularly if you were a Gryffindor).  

For the first time, I wondered why I'd been asked to come here. A Gryffindor – and a friend of Harry Potter's – would have had to be exceptional to get a placement here, and... well, I was exceptional, I just never knew that Severus Snape was willing to admit it.

I think I was actually looking forward to seeing him. And, if that was woeful stupidity, gentle readers, I was soon made to suffer for it.

He met us in the caves at the bottom of the deep, damp stair-well. Severus Snape had a curious affinity with underground places. He wore the darkness down here like an extension of his robes, and let the torchlight glimmer in his eyes like hellfire. He had to know how terrifying it made him look. He had to realize that, even at Skara Brae, where his students were adults, and had long since given up checking under the bed for monsters, he was the stuff of nightmares.

Out of habit, I lowered my gaze so as not to provoke him. I don't think he ever knew how fervently I used to wish I was invisible when he swept past me through the castle corridors. Of course, when you stood next to Harry, you were invisible to Severus Snape. Nothing drew down his gaze or his fury like that lightning-shaped scar. But Harry wasn't here anymore, and I felt tinglingly conspicuous.

I tried to drag my eyes up, annoyed by the fact that he was still intimidating me, but, in the half-light of the caves, there wasn't much to see. The dark seemed to cradle him. Later on, when – against my better judgement – I thought of him as a human being, I would see him sinking back into the shadows in moments of weariness, as though he was sinking into the welcome embrace of a lover. Sometimes I thought the darkness was his only comfort. It was certainly the only thing that had treated him tenderly in his short, unhappy life.  

His face was half-given over to the darkness now. He was so thin, and so deeply-etched with frown-lines, that the shadows had plenty of places to gather. In fact, his hooked nose and the long scars on his neck were the only things which caught the light.

Those scars were the one reminder that I wasn't back in the Hogwarts dungeons, queuing up for another hour of sarcastic abuse. They made him look as though he had been bitten by an extremely clumsy vampire, and resurrected into this life of solitude and study underground. Perhaps it was the ideal afterlife for Severus Snape; there were books to read and people to shout at. And what else could he have put his trust in, after all he'd been through?

My heart fluttered with the consciousness that I had been there when those scars were sustained. There had been so much blood. I remember thinking – in a surreal, sickened way – that it would have been enough to fill a small swimming pool. Who would have thought a man could have lived through something like that?

But then, who would have thought a man could have lived through nineteen years of lies, grief and solitude, sustained only by the thought of saving a boy he loathed with every fibre of his being? No-one should have been surprised by the grim tenacity of Severus Snape. His veins didn't need blood; just bloody-mindedness.  

He didn't say 'welcome to Skara Brae', and he didn't look at us as though we were welcome.

"A word of warning, ladies and gentlemen, before we go any further," he said, with mocking courtesy. "This Research Station was built within a field of High Intensity Magic. Let me give you an example of what this means. For those of you who think it might be amusing to conjure a flock of birds and command them to peck at your colleague's head, please bear in mind that they will still be pecking at him in six weeks, by which time they will have managed to drill their way through his skull. Magic will be used in these halls sparingly and wisely. I know many of you find it difficult to think before you wave your wands - ," his eyes lingered on me, and I knew he was thinking Gryffindor, even if he wasn't thinking Potter, "but you will learn, if you wish to continue breathing. Happily, it is no concern of mine whether or not you continue breathing. Since I am now teaching adults, I can no longer be held responsible for the disasters my students bring down on their heads by their own wilful stupidity."

Was there another glance at me just then? If there was, he might have been disappointed by the way I kept my gaze defiantly trained on him. I was determined not to look away, and give him the satisfaction of thinking he'd made me feel ashamed, when I had nothing to be ashamed of. I couldn't help blushing, though. His gaze always drew the blood to the surface of my skin, as though it was magnetically attracted to his eyes.  

The work at Skara Brae was... well, glorious. It was like looking at magic under a microscope. I never knew how beautiful – how intricate – the simplest of spells could be. Take the red beam of light generated by a Stunning spell, for example. In Skara Brae, the beam would split and fragment, separating out into its component colours, creating a web of rainbow-lights that would stun everyone within a five-mile radius, including the unlucky caster of the spell.

I soon learned to use magic with the same apprehensive caution with which I would approach Severus Snape. (And, just like approaching Severus Snape, it made my fingertips tingle with a kind of dread-soaked excitement). On my first morning at Skara Brae, I got into the shower before realizing I'd forgotten to unpack my shampoo-bottle from my case in the bedroom. Without thinking, I used a Summoning Charm to retrieve it, and found myself being pelted with every bottle of shampoo in the Research Station – and some from the local muggle village.

Snape made me spend the whole morning knocking on doors, asking the muggles if they'd mislaid their shampoo. He must have known it would challenge my ingenuity to come up with excuses about why I had their shampoo in the first place, but it was a cruel way of sharpening my wits before my first afternoon of work.  

The nights were less glorious. You never got complete silence at Skara Brae. There were always the sounds of stalactites dripping, faculty members pacing, and voices distorted by the echoing tunnels. Perhaps it was another effect of the High Intensity Magic Field, but I was sure, from the first night, that I could discern one voice above the rest – soft like Professor Snape's, but without the bite of irritation. It sounded so close – almost at my ear. And, after a few hours of being lulled into a sleepless stupor by its insensible hiss, I started to make out individual words. It said my name. It called to me.

For over a month, this went on. I started to get anxious if I didn't hear it. But then, when it arrived in my ear, so close I could swear the speaker was bending over me in the dark, I became even more anxious. I didn't know what it was, or what it wanted – and it was too personal, too close, for me to feel right about confiding in the others. The voice had asked me for help. It was my secret – my problem. And I worried at it constantly in the hours before I got to sleep, turning the syllables of my name over and over in my mind until they sounded meaningless.

There was a central cave in the Research Station beneath Skara Brae, but none of the students were allowed to go there. Professor Snape kept us working in the outlying regions, stripping away the curses that the ancient inhabitants had put on their tombs, before some hapless muggle archaeologist encountered them, and got his head-twisted off, or threw up his own stomach.

But sometimes, when we walked down the central tunnel from the dormitories to the burial mounds, we could hear voices coming from the cave, even though the Professor was the only one who was allowed to work in there. The idea that he was talking to himself was simply too outlandish to entertain, so we came to the conclusion that he was wrestling with a curse which had developed the power of speech. I told them about the walking, talking memory preserved in Tom Riddle's diary, and their eyes shone with an enthusiasm which was slightly disconcerting.

"I heard," Scarlett whispered, "that the ancient inhabitants of Skara Brae left the village really suddenly. They even found beads scattered across the floor, from where some woman's necklace broke when she was trying to rush out of the doorway. I think the curse in there is what made them leave. And Professor Snape won't trust us to help him with it until he's satisfied with our work."

"Then I know I'll never see it," said Terence glumly. "I'm only here for another six months."

The Professor was not very nice about our work, but nobody really seemed to resent this. When he scribbled the single word 'disappointing' at the bottom of Scarlett's sheet of calculations, she even cut it out and framed it. This man had fooled Voldemort for eighteen years. As far as Scarlett was concerned, it was an honour to be insulted by him.

In the evenings, he joined us in our common-room, with the other faculty members, and we would sit on tenter-hooks, talking quietly, and praying that we didn't do anything to draw down his disdain.

He watched me reading during the evenings, I was sure of it. Reading is a slightly... amorous activity for me, you see. Even when I know there are people about, I can't keep myself from gasping at the exciting parts, or moving my lips in time with the most beautiful sentences.

He would always lean back into the shadows and observe, sometimes lifting a cup of tea to his lips and holding it there, letting the steam bathe his eyebrows. He peered out at us through clumps of greasy hair and curtains of steam. And it made every inch of my spine tingle. It turned each vertebra to jelly.

I couldn't help wondering what was going on behind the curtains he was so keen to draw across his face. What was he thinking? Was he remembering Voldemort? Or scenes of torture he'd had to stand by and watch, because he didn't want to blow his cover?

You got the feeling there was something he was trying not to say or do, because he was constantly bristling with repressed energy. It was in the clipped strides he took; the way he breathed hard through his nostrils and clenched his jaw, as though he was trying to bite back even more abuse than he delivered.

Or perhaps it was something else that he was trying to bite back. The abuse made it past his mental checkpoint because it was safe – it was familiar. But maybe there were other things queuing up to escape his lips, like screams of horror or pleas for help, and he was too ashamed to utter them.

Well, it was probably a good thing he wrestled them back. If he let out so much as a whimper, I would have rushed to him. I wouldn't have been able to help it. I'd become so involved in his story, so appalled by his suffering – and I never was able to watch people suffer in silence.  

I started to enjoy the regular insults he included when he handed back our reports at the end of each week. We lined up in the tunnels, and he stalked up and down in front of us, like a big cat selecting its prey. And, when he stopped in front of someone else, you were always as disappointed as you were relieved.

"Do these again, Miss Nash," he said. "This time with your eyes open."

Scarlett shuddered with delight and scuttled away. Miss Nash, I thought sulkily. She gets 'Miss' Nash because she was never friends with Harry Potter.

He moved on to me, handing my report back with a grimace of distaste. "Granger, you write reports like you write biographies. Kindly stop trying to empathize with your curses and start observing them."

I stared at him in disbelief. "You read my book, Professor Snape? The one about Regulus Black?"

He raised his eyebrows. "You may find this astonishing to hear, Granger, but I can read. Sometimes without even moving my lips."

I blushed to the roots of my hair, but didn't look away. "I didn't think it was your kind of thing, sir."

"I don't have a 'kind of thing', Granger. I have something a little more general, which you probably won't have heard of, called curiosity."

His eyes were once again sucking all the blood to the surface of my skin. Maybe he really had been bitten by a vampire.

"It was a foolish thing to do," he added, in a softer tone.  

"You mean giving his life for a House Elf?"

"No, Granger, it was a foolish thing for you to publicize it. Regulus did not want to be famous for his compassionate side."

I couldn't help it. I was a Gryffindor, after all. The reply was out of my mouth before my instincts for self-preservation could kick in. "Neither did you, I suppose."

Severus Snape looked at me. There was no discernable reaction, but I could have sworn the firelight reflected in his eyes reared and flickered dangerously.  

"I think you might enjoy another afternoon of muggle-studies, Miss Granger," he whispered. I never thought I would miss the shouting.

For the rest of that day, I was assigned to knock on doors, and survey the local villagers about any strange phenomena they'd witnessed. One old lady pulled me into her sitting room and lectured me for three hours about UFOs. My brain felt bruised by the time she let me go.

But I thought about the fact that he had called me 'Miss Granger' – for the first time in my life – and glowed.  

Ron would have said I was going crazy, but, as the weeks went by, I began to learn how to read Professor Snape's anger. It was like a code. There were tones, modulations and harmonics to it. "Get me a coffee, Granger" meant: "Good morning. Don't talk to me for another hour or so until I've had time to adjust to this loathsome state of consciousness. I don't want to make your life any more miserable than is absolutely necessary."

He had friendly types of sarcasm, approachable types of irritation, even good-humoured bouts of shouting. It wasn't his fault that anger was the only emotional language he knew. Well, it wasn't all his fault, anyway.

That night, the voice that called to me in the hours before I got to sleep learned three new words: "Come to me."

I sat up in bed, convinced that I would crash into the owner of the voice, but there was nobody – just Scarlett lolling half-way out of her bed, snoring.

But it was still talking. It never carried on talking after I'd opened my eyes. Something must have happened. I didn't know what kind of harm could befall a disembodied voice. I wasn't in any fit state to care. I just knew I had to be there - I had to give it what it needed.  

I shrugged into my dressing-gown – or somebody's dressing-gown, anyway, it was too dark to be absolutely sure – and staggered out of the dormitories, with my heart thudding in my mouth.   

The voice, while always being just at my ear, also seemed to be coming from the central cave, where Professor Snape wrestled with Skara Brae's nastiest curses. The door wasn't locked; he obviously assumed the terror he inspired would be enough to deter us from entering – and it would, usually, but my little voice needed me.

The wooden door didn't fit the opening of the cave mouth very well, in any case. You could always see firelight flickering around the edges, as though it was the door to hell.

I opened it, and stopped on the threshold. The central cave must originally have been a burial chamber. That was the scholarly observation my mind came up with after my stomach had done a few somersaults.

Most of the floor was taken up by a kind of well – a circle of black water that rippled fitfully, even though there was no draught. But it was the skulls that really caught the eye. The walls were lined with them, each one in its own alcove, carved into the rock like cells of honeycomb.

It was funny. I was so used to seeing the recently deceased – the scenes of messy, sticky and immediate devastation – that I'd almost forgotten dead humans devolved into these tidy white skeletons – practically mineral deposits, like any other accumulation of atoms.

It was sort of comforting. Everything about Skara Brae was sort of comforting, and, in another – much more emphatic – way, terrifying. I suppose I'd been through so much terror in my life that things seemed indefinably wrong when I wasn't frightened. It was what drew me to Severus Snape. And it was probably also the only thing I had in common with him.

He was there, of course. I didn't notice him immediately, but I didn't give him the satisfaction of gasping or shrieking or leaping back when I finally realized he was looking at me. The horror just accumulated dimly in an out-of-the-way corner of my mind – as did the hot, smoky sensation beneath the horror, whatever that was.

In the half-light of the cave, his face looked like just another skull – although there was no mistaking that nose, especially because the skulls didn't have any. He wasn't angry, for the moment; just leaning back into the shadows with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed.

"It calls to you too, then?" he said calmly. "What a pity. I had thought it was a demon with discerning taste."

"What is it?" I said, realizing with a jolt that I had put on Helene's fluffy pink dressing-gown, and that Professor Snape wasn't mocking me for it.

"Something conjured up by the Neolithic inhabitants of Skara Brae," he said. "Either an intelligent curse, or a bloated poltergeist, fed by the High Intensity Magic Field. More being than beast, but more spirit than either. They called it forth, but didn't know how to send it back. And so they fled, foolishly assuming that time or distance would have any meaning for this creature. It is still waiting for them."

He was looking at the gently-rippling well in the centre of the cave, and my eyes followed his, fascinated.

"You're seeing it at its best," he went on, again in the same level, leaden tones. "When it's angry, it bubbles like a boiling cauldron."

"Why does it get angry?" I asked tentatively.

"Because no-one listens to it. Unfortunately for us both, I understand the feeling."

I knelt down beside the gently-rippling water. It was a stupid thing to do – maybe I half-wanted Professor Snape to rush forward and pull me back by the shoulders, but he made no move. His eyes were just as dark and fitful as the water. And I wondered whether that was why he'd been sent here. You'd send a demon to fight a demon, wouldn't you? Professor Snape – with all his restless, infernal energy, and his permanent feelings of under-appreciation – would understand just how a demon thought.  

But this was no longer looking like the honourable, intellectual retirement that he'd earned, after his eighteen-year battle against Voldemort.  

"Why did they send you here, Professor?" I asked, peering into the black water. It just reflected my own anxious face back at me, but it was easier than looking at him.

"Can't you imagine?" he snapped. He was holding one of the skulls, turning it over in his fingers with apparent fascination. We wouldn't look at each other, even though the only alternatives were skulls and demons. "I assume you are not labouring under the delusion that they thought the sea air would be good for my health?"

I stared into my own horror-filled eyes. The Ministry must have thought he was incorruptible, in a way. If he could taste the rewards of Dark Magic, and give them all up for the life of a boy he despised, how could a measly demon sway him?

"But..." I faltered. "But you were a hero."

"I was a man who had proven himself useful," said Snape shortly. "That is not the same thing. High-profile heroics are commemorated with monuments or national holidays, but the reward for toil is more toil."

I was still struggling with this idea. "You're saying the Ministry saw that you were prepared to accept thankless tasks, and so they gave you another one?"

"I did not decline it," he said coolly.

"Why not? Hadn't you had enough of being used?"  

"You would think so, wouldn't you?"

They must have seen that he was unfit for any other kind of life. Perhaps you could get to a stage of such advanced trauma that rest and comfort simply wouldn't do you any good anymore. Leisure would only afford you more time for dwelling on the painful memories. Tenderness would only remind you of the tenderness you'd lost – although, in the case of Severus Snape, this could never have been a consideration. You could tell from the hard eyes and firm-set jaw that he'd never felt a tender touch in his life.

So they put him to work, knowing that powerful men – especially the under-appreciated ones – shouldn't be left idle.  

I decided that, just this once, he might not skin me alive if I tried to comfort him. "They must have known the temptations of Dark Magic couldn't sway you."

Snape flicked this objection aside with a contemptuous motion of his head. "You have no subtlety, Granger. You still see everything in black and white. I have been swayed. It is the reason why I have not been broken. Do you think I managed to convince the Dark Lord that I was one of his followers by sticking my fingers in my ears every time he proposed an immoral course of action? It was my job to be swayed. Defiant speeches and daring rescues would not have done any good. I gave up being good in order to be useful. Never assume for a moment that you can have both. What has innocence ever accomplished?" he spat. "When did the innocent build civilizations or write spell-books? Dumbledore understood this. The innocent function to keep us sane while we undertake the dirty work."

Had he ever let himself speak so freely to another human being, I wondered? It must have been so hard, suffering in silence, watching your tongue around your friends as well as your enemies, and never being completely certain which was which.  

"It was not easy," he went on, as though reading my mind. He seemed to be spitting out each word before his better judgement had a chance to bite it back. "Sacrificing your life is over in an instant, and leaves you neither time nor opportunity for regrets. But sacrificing every aspect of yourself is a long, slow, torturous process. It involves dying by inches every day. As Weasley's wife, I imagine you're acquainted with the sensation."

I ignored that.

"But, in those days, I wanted nothing more than to be useful. Another thing I do not expect a publicity-hungry Gryffindor to understand."  

That was harder to ignore, but I managed it.

"The Ministry assumed this remarkable disinterest was endemic to my nature, and so they sent me to Skara Brae, but I simply do not have the desire to be useful here. The stakes are not high enough. What is the end of the world supposed to mean to me?"

"The end of the world?"

Snape gave a contemptuous shrug. "It's breaking loose. The High Intensity Magic Field has been nourishing it for centuries. Millennia. It would probably even have killed the Dark Lord, had circumstances been different."

"Well, what are we going to do?" I demanded, dragging a hand through my hair. "You do have a plan, don't you?"

He raised his eyebrows, obviously amused by the naivety of the question.

"There must be something we can do!" I persisted.

"Perhaps we should call in the famous Harry Potter?"

I glared at him. He was infuriatingly calm now that I was angry. It was just typical!

"Is that why you asked me to come here?" I demanded. "Because you thought I'd remind you of the old days, when sacrificing yourself had seemed so easy?"

"Relatively easy," Snape corrected me, with the same infuriating calm.  

I narrowed my eyes. "You can't do it without having someone to hate and fume about? Is that it? You need to be rolling your eyes at someone's stupidity all the time, and you thought I'd fit the bill? You should have asked Harry or Ron, at least they wouldn't have expected anything different from you!"

"What did you expect from me?" he asked blankly, raising an eye-brow.   

"I..." I hesitated, fuming. "I expected you to have some feelings!"


"Because you sacrificed your whole life for somebody!" I shouted stupidly. "You've got no right to be a bastard!"

"Is this the incisive reasoning you applied to the life of Regulus Black?"

I glared at him. "I should have known you'd never have asked me here because of my work! Five years, you gave me the same grade as Draco Malfoy, even though I was ten times as good! You never gave me above an 'Exceeds Expectations', even when my potions were perfect!"

I stopped. The cave-roof threw the echoes of my words back at me, and they sounded childish and shrill. I went on scowling, but blushed at the same time, for good measure.

"Exceeding my expectations was the most impressive thing you could have done, Miss Granger," he said.  

"God knows what I'm doing here," I muttered, half to myself.

"I already told you why I asked you here," he said sharply. "You never listened. You always assumed you could get better answers from a text-book."

"What a shame there aren't any text-books on cantankerous old men," I said tartly.

I turned to leave, fully expecting to have curses hurled at my back, but there was only silence. His anger didn't break over me. It was probably still rearing up, gathering the necessary momentum to strike. When I turned back, he was balancing the skull between his palms, staring thoughtfully into its empty eye-sockets.

"The innocent function to keep us sane while we undertake the dirty work," he said matter-of-factly. "I wanted to see innocence again. It is not often found in conjunction with a personality I can endure. Or with the ability to perform a competent counter-curse. You were, more or less, the only suitable candidate in the world. Make of that what you will, but do not imagine I don't know how to value your abilities."

I stared at him, too shocked to speak. I wanted to store up every one of those words and run away, so that he'd never get a chance to take them back. He continued to stare at the skull, with his jaw clenched – crackling with suppressed energy like a demon newly escaped from hell, and trying not to attract too much attention in this new, bewildering human world. I wondered if that was how Dumbledore and Voldemort thought of him – as their own personal demon – a kind of capable familiar they could send off on dark, thankless errands, without ever realizing that a demon could have a will – and a heart – of its own.

"I promise never to write your biography," I said impulsively, seizing upon the idea as the only nice thing I could possibly do for him, ever.

He raised his eyebrows and inclined his head. "That is very considerate of you, Granger."

"And, from tomorrow, I want to start working in here."

"That is very ill-considered of you."

"But it will happen, nonetheless."

"You'll run away as soon as you see what you're facing," he said – and I wondered whether he was talking about him or the demon.

"I have an internship here for six months," I said primly, "and I intend to stay until it's finished."

"We'll see."

I nodded. We would see. Perhaps there was no way to change him or help him but, if it was possible at all, it was only going to be achieved by time.

And then I went to bed, trying to forget that I had just conducted that conversation in a fluffy, pink dressing-gown.
Fanfic for =ShatteredSwords who was one of the winners of the Spinners--End donation pool (the other prizes were Snape-paintings by the amazing =lilyhbp and =joeyv7 so dear =ShatteredSwords has my sympathies for being the unfortunate person who won the fanfic! ;)) I really hope you like it, dear! :hug:

The prompt was an AU Severus/Hermione story, so this is quite different from the things I usually write. It's not very fluffy (except literally, due to the appearance of a fluffy pink dressing-gown in the final scene), but Severus and Hermione aren't really fluffy people, are they?

Skara Brae is a real place, and it really is older than the Great Pyramids! [link]
Add a Comment:
RightonShootingStar Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2011
.....Where to begin.....
Absolutely bloody amazing!!!! Its not often I come across a read (published or fan-fiction), that makes me laugh out loud at every quib nor could I suppress the grin that brightened my face as I read on. :squee:
You really made my day with this one hun.
"I would see him sinking back into the shadows in moments of weariness, as though he was sinking into the welcome embrace of a lover." I cant even respond to this its so amazing.

Your Snape banter is making the wheels in my head turn for a story Ive been stuck on a bit, for lack of dialogue. And all the mention of the blushing; Hell I could feel the heat coming off my face as I read, just imagining having those eyes bore into me.
I will say the same mortifying side effect occurs to Petunia in the above mentioned, I'm just having a hard time getting the key plot point into something readably suitable, (to my perfectionistic pallet).

I too personally think that you should try and continue with this endeavor, but not too soon either. Iam still slowly but surely trudging thru "Sympathetic Magic", hehe :thanks:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011
:w00t: :hug: Thank you so much! I'm really happy to hear that you like this! (And that the dialogue has helped inspire your own fanfic - if you post it on the internet, you must send me the link, because I love fanfics, especially ones where Snape makes people blush! :heart:) You've really made my day with this kind comment, so thank you again!

Sympathetic Magic is coming to an end very soon (although I'm currently having trouble writing the final chapters! :faint:) so maybe I'll be able to continue this after I've finished. (Sorry Sympathetic Magic is so long - I got carried away! :blushes:)
skyfairystarling Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2011  Student General Artist
I've probably reread this like 5 times XD still hoping you will continue on this one as well as your lovely other ones <3
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2011
:w00t: :hug: Thank you, I'm really happy you like this! You know, I've been thinking about continuing it (especially now that I'm coming to the end of my other story, Sympathetic Magic), but I want to try my hand at writing some original fiction too (although I must confess I've never loved a character of my own invention as much as I love J.K. Rowling's! ;)) I'll have to see what inspires me when the big story is finished.

(I'm a bit scared about finally finishing the big story! :fear: It's been such a huge part of my life for so long that I'm not sure what I'll do without it, but I know I'll always love the character of Severus Snape, so I expect I'll write fanfiction again at some time or another!)

Thank you so much for commenting, I really appreciate it! :hug: It really cheers me up to hear that there are people out there reading and enjoying my writing! :)
Anouk-Lisole Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2011
Oh - oh, goodness. This took me by surprise! I was scrolling along, scanning first sentences of fics, going, "Crap, crap, pure slush-" and then, "Now, wait a minute, that's interesting... Oh, that's very interesting." You had me at "snagged on the jagged edges."

Your use of language is really admirable - you've a lovely way of stringing words together (one of my favourite things as a writer). Your characterisation of Snape is possibly the best I've read - true to canon, but empathically fleshed out. You write his crisp, biting, bitter humour with perfect believability. And his dialogue with Hermione! Ace.

I love the way this played on the actual mysteries of Skara Brae! And had that subtle touch of horror, especially as we imagine them confined to what is essentially (and brilliantly) Snape's dungeon classroom. I also greatly appreciated the delicate handling of the Severus/Hermione theme - you didn't just smash together two wildly disparate characters, and you didn't whack us over the head with it, or take it anywhere it wouldn't realistically have gone. But you allowed us to imagine what could come next. And you made them make sense (an extra "brava" for that one).

And then you come out with these really smart, quotable truths! My favs:
"High-profile heroics are commemorated with monuments or national holidays, but the reward for toil is more toil."
"powerful men – especially the under-appreciated ones – shouldn't be left idle"
I love Snape to death when he says, "I gave up being good in order to be useful." The world-weary cynicism is exquisitely tragic and understated.

Random things: have you read any of the Elric books by Michael Moorcock? The demonic well reminded me strikingly of something like it in Sailor on the Seas of Fate. If you haven't read it, definitely check it out.

And have you read The Demon's Lexicon? This passage made me think you would fall in love with Sarah Rees Brennan's wicked characters: "I wondered if that was how Dumbledore and Voldemort thought of him – as their own personal demon – a kind of capable familiar they could send off on dark, thankless errands, without ever realizing that a demon could have a will – and a heart – of its own." Beautiful.

Sorry for rambling on, but I was just really impressed. Damn fine job.
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2011
Thank you so much! :hug: :w00t: I'm really happy to hear you liked this chapter! (No need to apologize for rambling messages at all, by the way - they're my favourite kind - especially because they give me an excuse to ramble back! And Severus Snape is my absolute favourite thing to ramble about! ;) :heart: I'm totally addicted to writing about his character - as you can tell from the one-hundred-and-something chapters up here on DA! - so I'm always really happy to hear that there are other people out there who love him too, and who are willing to read my stories about him!)

I'm really glad to hear that the beginning of this story pulled you in, because usually my opening sentences are so boring! I feel like there's too much pressure on them, because they're the first thing a new reader will see, so I usually end up buckling under the pressure and making them really functional and dull. This fic was one of those very rare occasions for me where I actually had the beginning worked out before I wrote the rest of the story (and where I didn't think about the beginning too much), so I think that's definitely the way to go in future.

I haven't read the Michael Moorcock books or The Demon's Lexicon, but they sound like just the sort of thing I'd love. Was looking up Elric on Amazon and read this description of him from a review: the doom-haunted, self-questioning, soul-feeding weakling who gets his strength from those he kills and yet somehow remains attractive and likeable. It sounds awesome! :heart: I'm definitely going to have to order that!

Thanks again for your kind words about this story, they've cheered me up no end today! :hug:
chiburaska Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2011
OMG fantastic! I need more of this! I couldn't stop I need have a beautiful style as always.
By the way I love that: "...He wore the an extension of his robes.. "
Simply magical
ls269 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2011
:hug: :w00t: :heart: Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me! I did enjoy writing this, so I think there will be more, when I have some time away from the other fanfic (I'm trying to get it finished by the end of the year, but there are such a lot of loose ends to tie up... :phew:) Anyway, I'm so happy you liked this, thank you again for your lovely comments! :tighthug:
cabepfir Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
When I met *Vizen in Paris last week, she had a printed copy of this fic with her, and so when I came back home it was on the top of my to-read list. Being a SS/HG reader (and, recently, writer) I was highly intrigued by having such a pairing written by you! I totally wasn’t disappointed, but by the fact that it ends so abruptly and that I wanted to read much more ;)

Your style is splendid, and there were a lot of memorable lines.

Life didn't go on, that was the first thing we learned. Grudges went on; nightmares went on; paranoia went on and on and on, but life got snagged on the jagged edges of our memories, and unravelled as we walked away. The start, well, is glorious, to use Hermione’s words.

Antonin Dolohov had become a born-again Christian in Azkaban LOL

He had just been dislocated by grief a little earlier than we had. Yep.

In his honour, I imagined they were bats. Epic :D

Perhaps it was the ideal afterlife for Severus Snape; there were books to read and people to shout at. Lovely consideration.

The bottles of shampoo – always a classic in connection with Snape. I guess Hermione didn’t Summon Snape’s bottle as well.

The voice in the night reminded me of The Phantom of the Opera song: “In sleep he calls to me, in dreams he came…”

Reading is a slightly... amorous activity for me. Yes. I especially tend to laugh aloud, if the tale is funny enough. I do that also when I read on the tube.

He had friendly types of sarcasm, approachable types of irritation, even good-humoured bouts of shouting. Fantastic.

I suppose I'd been through so much terror in my life that things seemed indefinably wrong when I wasn't frightened. Sometimes this happens to me, too, especially when I take a flight.

"I was a man who had proven himself useful" You know, recently I have many problems with Snape’s activities as a spy. Mainly because we don’t know what he exactly does for Voldemort – and what is the ultimate reason why he has to spy on Voldemort. This is a bit of my rant agaist Rowling, so please forgive me. During the last weeks, it happened me to think that there were no actual needs to have Snape in Voldemort’s circle, apart from the “cool” aspect of him being a double agent. But sorry, this is just between me and Rowling.

I gave up being good in order to be useful. I wholeheartedly love this sentence.

As Weasley's wife, I imagine you're acquainted with the sensation. Ron’s bashing is a priceless component of SS/HG. Well done.

What is the end of the world supposed to mean to me? Oh Snape. *sighs*

You were, more or less, the only suitable candidate in the world. Then, on which basis did Snape select the other members of the internship?

Sorry for the long quoting. I took the time of copying and pasting phrases because I really appreciated this piece.
ls269 Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011
:hug: :w00t: Thank you so much for this lovely, detailed comment! I really appreciate it when readers take the time to comment in depth, and I'm so happy you liked this story! I might continue with it, but I'm afraid I need to finish my current Sev/Lily fanfic first. (It's already about 150 chapters long! :faint: But there is an ending in sight now.)

I guess Hermione didn’t Summon Snape’s bottle as well.

:giggle: Ha ha! Yes, for some reason she didn't seem to get a bottle of shampoo from Snape's room, I can't think why... ;)

The voice in the night reminded me of The Phantom of the Opera song: “In sleep he calls to me, in dreams he came…”

Oooh, yes, I like that parallel! I found the phantom's habit of talking to Christine at night from behind the mirror really chilling when I watched the film (I'm afraid I haven't read the book!)

Reading is an amorous activity for me too! I love the texture of books, I love flicking through the pages, and I frequently annoy my friends and family by laughing out loud or gasping in horror when I'm reading! :blushes:

You know, recently I have many problems with Snape’s activities as a spy. Mainly because we don’t know what he exactly does for Voldemort – and what is the ultimate reason why he has to spy on Voldemort.

Hmmm... I guess there is the fact that, as one of Voldemort's followers, he gets put in charge of Hogwarts in the final book. If Snape hadn't been spying on Voldemort, Hogwarts would have been left at the mercy of those horrible Carrows! :fear: I imagine he protected the Hogwarts students as much as he could when he was Headmaster. He was also useful at feeding Voldemort not-quite-false information, like when he told Voldemort when Harry was going to be moved, but not that there would be seven Harrys for the Death Eaters to chase. That made him seem like a useful follower, while still pretty much ensuring Harry's safety.

I must confess, I like Snape's role as a spy. I think it's a very Slytherin form of heroism - keeping your nerve and lying creatively. I wouldn't have wanted Severus to have an ostentatious, Gryffindor-style heroic ending! ;)

Then, on which basis did Snape select the other members of the internship?

I think he just selected them based on their ability to perform counter-curses (although I'm toying with the idea - if I continue with this story - of giving each of them a traumatic past like Hermione's and showing how they rose above it, to a greater or lesser extent).

Anyway, thank you again for your lovely comments, I can't tell you how much I appreciate them! :blowkiss: :heart:
cabepfir Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Hmmm... I guess there is the fact that, as one of Voldemort's followers, he gets put in charge of Hogwarts in the final book. If Snape hadn't been spying on Voldemort, Hogwarts would have been left at the mercy of those horrible Carrows! I imagine he protected the Hogwarts students as much as he could when he was Headmaster. He was also useful at feeding Voldemort not-quite-false information, like when he told Voldemort when Harry was going to be moved, but not that there would be seven Harrys for the Death Eaters to chase. That made him seem like a useful follower, while still pretty much ensuring Harry's safety.

Yes, that was what happened, but nobody could have told it from the start.
Dont' get me wrong; I adore the fact that he's a spy, and the scene in which he shows his Dark Mark to Fudge, ready to go back to Voldemort, is one of my very favourite of the series. It's just that, recently, reading a lot of essays about HP in order to write my own fic, I found myself thinking about Snape's role as a spy. It all started when I thought about the first war and the fact that we don't know what exactly happened then - for example, what Frank Longbottom and the Potters did in fighting Voldemort. I considered the idea that they could have tried some kind of plot.

I guess I was a bit influenced by Operation Valkirie, the movie with Tom Cruise about Stauffenberg's plot to kill Hitler. I imagined that during Voldemort War 1 some kind of plot could have happened - and I like to believe that Snape, too, would have liked to take part in something like that after he changed sides.

So, when in Goblet of Fire Snape returns to Voldemort, I would have expected him - and Dumbledore - to actually accelerate the final clash of Voldemort and Harry Potter, admitted that only Harry could vanquish the Dark Lord. I'm throughoutly frustrated by the fact that Dumbledore seems to take so long to look after the Horcruxes - when Regulus knew about them - and that Snape, in the books, seems to ignore all about the Horcruxes.

In his role as a spy, I would expect Snape to discover more about the Horcruxes and to chase them, or at least to do something more to weaken Voldemort (I don't know, feeding him some kind of brain-damaging potion).

But maybe this is just me, trying to impose my logic over the HP series. I hope this doesn't disturb you too much.

ls269 Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2011
I think we all try to impose our own logic on the HP series, especially as fan-fiction writers! There are things that I would have done differently, if I'd been writing the series (there would have been less focus on the frankly boring Harry Potter! ;) :giggle:) but I do adore the way J.K. Rowling wrote the books.

And, by making Voldemort such a difficult man to defeat (somebody who couldn't be easily poisoned or plotted against - he's practically a force of nature in those books!) she made him a truly terifying character, which I guess helped the suspense. When we were reading, we knew there were no guarantees that the heroes would survive, and that made us all the more involved in the story.

I also think she wanted to make the bad guys hard to defeat for the purposes of realism. She wanted to teach her young readers that, sometimes, bad people will get their way, and there's very little we can do about it, but that we have to go on being brave and resisting.

As Snape fans, of course we wanted Severus to have more to do in that story, but the fact that he was willing to give his life just to help the hero - not even to defeat the villain - highlights his bravery all the more, for me.
AnCatDubh Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
ooooh my god post-war Snape written by you is such a treat. this is the reason why I started reading fanfic - to get insight on what exactly was going on inside that head. It's extremely rare to get a story that feels like the characters could really be canon all the way, and evenmore so one where canon elements are used in a creative way to say more about the characters (ie rathing than having lots of AU which is obviously easier to develop character, but which goes in its own direction as a more independent entity from the original story), but I think you have done it here. It really requires much subtlety from the author I think, to be able to do that.

I love the way things like references to Lily are implied. Actually, that's what I love here : the way you handle the knowledge that everybody has of his past, the thing he so furiously wanted to keep to himself. If he had indeed lived, he should would have gond very far away. I wonder if he would have felt some kind of shame that his sensitive side got discovered, which makes me wonder how he always felt about having this side to himself, do you know what I mean? Lol sorry I'm starting to rant now, but your story definitely triggers interesting thoughts! I wish I had more time for DA these days, I must be so late on your main fic...
ls269 Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011
Thank you! :hug: I'm so happy you liked this! I agree, I think Severus would have been mortified if he'd lived through the war, and everyone had discovered his sentimental side! Still, at least (as in this story) he would get to have a lot of fun subverting everyone's expectations of the hero, by refusing to give speeches, refusing to talk to reporters, and definitely refusing to attend get-togethers with the other heroes! ;) Bless him!

I always wonder if he thought of his love as an unbearable weakness that he just couldn't shake. In that case, maybe he thought he was being cowardly, rather than brave, when he went to Dumbledore, and asked him to protect Lily. But only at first, I hope. I like to think that he saw the value in his sentimental side eventually, even though he might have been frustrated by it.

Don't worry about getting behind on the main fic, it won't be finished anytime soon (even though I have an ending in sight now, it will still take a long time to get there! :faint:)
skyfairystarling Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2011  Student General Artist
The way you write just flows beautifully and just draws me in making me hunger for more.I could see you writing your own story and it becoming a top seller if you wrote it like you wrote this, just amazing. I really really hope you continue this one <33
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Thank you so much! :hug: That really means a lot to me! I love writing Harry Potter fan-fiction, but it's usually about Severus and Lily, so this was a real adventure for me! I was very worried about how it would turn out. I'm so happy you liked it! :glomp:
ProperyoftheHBP Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Your writing is so beautiful. You have a way of capturing people, not just their attention, but also emotionally. I was so deeply absorbed in the story that I felt a little disoriented upon finishing it. You know how when you read a story, there are certain lines or phrases that jump out at you, because they are just so perfect? These are riddled frequently throughout your story. The entire first paragraph pulled me under, this line is especially beautiful:

...but life got snagged on the jagged edges of our memories, and unravelled as we walked away.

You perfectly combine all the elements of wonderful story telling: characters, setting and plot, without neglecting any one of them. Simply by reading this story, I can tell you care deeply for the characters (especially Sev, which is something I can relate to) in the way that your portray them, and also the careful thought you put into your story (Skara Brae, need I say more?); perhaps this is what makes the readers love your work so much.

I am wholeheartedly a Snape-Lily person, but I find that the Snape-Hermione pairing can be quite fascinating when done well. Yours is a prime example; their relationship is subtle, intricate and believeable, being set post-War. I am now compelled to read your other stories...if you write Snape-Hermione so beautifully, I can't imagine how much I will love your Snape-Lily fics.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2011
Thank you so much! :hug: I'm really happy you liked this. And it's so exciting to have a new reader! :dance: The beginning of my fanfic is a little disjointed (when I first started writing, I was just writing individual scenes and character sketches, so there isn't an awful lot of plot in the first few chapters! :blushes:) But it starts to pick up a plot at around about 'Hemlock and Vanilla' [link] I think.

I know exactly what you mean about feeling disorientated when you've finished reading something! When I finished Catcher in the Rye, I had a Holden-Caulfield-style monologue going through my head for hours! And I always feel embarrassed at the cinema when a film is over and I have to grudgingly come back to reality! :giggle:

Anyway, thank you so much for your comments, I really appreciate them! :tighthug: So glad you're reading this story!
Vizen Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
One couldn't say you are in love with Severus Snape, really XD Hey, it shows in each sentence.

Actually, it's a very interesting experience, seeing you write out of your zone of comfort with the Hermione character. But we meet again your adult Snape, who is always a great pleasure to read. And we still can read all your remarks and details and all these little wonderful ideas you always have, and that make me smile with delight. Like, framing "disappointing"... [Really, I would SO do that, too XD XD XD]

And Helene with her glorious French accent and her fluffy pink dressing-gown :rofl: XD XD XD <--- I appreciated.

Ah, and it makes me think that I long for some Harry/Snape scene or fic from you, now. I mean, you really should give it a try someday, when feeling the inspiration. Not especially a snarry thing, but some writing involving those two together. When you think about it, the relationship is rich in potential and I'm sure you could give it a try successfully, again.

And Snape really, always stuck, longing for light and innocence and always swayed by Darkness and dirty jobs to do. Damned in paradise and angel in hell. :)
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
And Snape really, always stuck, longing for light and innocence and always swayed by Darkness and dirty jobs to do. Damned in paradise and angel in hell

So true! But he wouldn't be Snape if he wasn't hopelessly out of place everywhere he went! :heart:

You know, now that I come to think about it, it's really strange that I've never written a Snape/Harry scene! It's as though the Harry/James image looms so large in Sev's mind that it's not really necessary for them to be present. Does that make sense? (I had three hours of sleep last night, and then a looooooong day at work today, so I think I'll give up trying to make sense! ;))

Will give the Snape/Harry scene some thought. There would have to be a lot of shouting...

Thank you for reading and commenting, dear Bea! :hug: I'm so glad you liked this chapter!
greeneyes-17 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
I loved the first few sentences especially - the imagery is so indescribably beautiful!
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Thank you so much! :hug: I normally find beginnings really hard (in fact, they're usually the last part of the chapter I actually write, and I agonize over them for hours, worrying that they'll scare the reader off! ;)), but, for this story, the opening sentences were the first things that occurred to me.
Victory-Gin Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Once again, I commend you for your flawless depiction of the characters and wonderful originality. Skara Brae? How do you come up with this stuff? You're really amazing, you know.

Snape is perfect, as always--cynical, sardonic, and brilliant. And Hermione is wonderfully insightful. That bit about his morning coffee had me rolling. :rofl: I also love the way you realistically portrayed the HP world after the war. Severus doesn't become Uncle Sev and stay over with Harry and the gang for dinner. He also doesn't forgo his previous sentiments about humanity in general and expect any more of them than usual. (By the way I love how Scarlet framed his 'disappointing'.)

Oh, and the setting--the high intensity magic field--that was ingenious! I really enjoyed your descriptions of what magic looked like when it was amplified. Also, the mental picture of Hermione walking from door to door trying to return shampoo was priceless. :D

Of course, I admit, it was a bit of a transition to read a Severus/Hermione story set after the events of DH when my mind is usually stuck in the Marauder era. ^^; Normally, I'd be horrified at the concept of reading about another pairing, but your writing has never been about ships to me. Normal fanfic writing is ship writing--it's all about the pairing and the story is just there to act as a sort of buffer, which probably explains why I don't read much fanfiction anymore now that I think about it... However, when I read your stories, I find myself not only swept away in the romance (because let's face, I really enjoy it) but also the story. Don't worry, I won't set the dogs on you because you wrote something outside of Sev/Lily. :hug: Your writing is so much more... You never disappoint!
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Yay! :w00t: :hug: Thank you, you don't know how much that means to me! Obviously, my heart still belongs to the Sev/Lily pairing (in fact, I'm usually quite hesitant about reading any other pairings too!) But it wasn't hard for me to imagine this Severus finding comfort with Hermione, because he's so different from the young Severus in my main story. (I'm not sure I can see them joining up any more - the Sev in my story has maybe had too many joyful experiences to ever turn into the embittered canon character, but I still enjoy the embittered canon character no end! :heart:)

Oh, I have exciting news about the main fanfic! (I've been trying to write a journal entry to broadcast this news but I'm waaaay too disorganized to find the time for that right now! :faint:) I now have a title and, even more importantly, an ending!
Victory-Gin Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
:faint: A title and an ending?? Seriously?? Wow, that's fantastic! :tighthug: Really, I'm so excited right now! I feel exhilarated, but also a bit apprehensive, to be honest. It's almost hard to imagine everything tying together and coming to a satisfying conclusion. Despite everything, I'm sure that at the very end, I'm still going to be thinking, okay, now what comes next? Still, more than anything, I'm thrilled! :D

Besides, you're a writer, that's part of who you are (at least from my limited perspective.) So, I have every faith that you'll continue to write long after you conclude this tale. Well, no matter what you decide to do next, you have a loyal reader here who's eager to dive in.

Oh, I can't wait to learn the title~! Also, I'm still curious about your original story. How's that coming along?
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2011
Don't worry, the ending is still quite a long way off (I have so many loose-ends to tie up! :fear: I haven't come back to poor Regulus and his magical overdose for ages!) But it's nice to finally know where it's going, despite the fact that I know I'll be lost and inconsolable when it's finished (but then, the beginning of the story badly needs some editing and tidying-up, so there will always be that to keep me busy! ;))

I'll try and write a journal today to announce the title (listen to me, talking about it as though it's a big public event! ;) :giggle:) I can't tell you how much I appreciate how you and other readers have stuck with this story, you know, despite its length and all the infrequent updates! :faint:

I haven't had much time for writing the nano novel, but I'm still coming back to it occasionally. I wrote a new beginning, which gets to the meat of the story much more quickly, but possibly will just prove to be confusing! ;)
ShatteredSwords Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011  Professional General Artist
Oh wow. *flops around on the floor in wonder* tell me there's more!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please god tell me there is more!!!! So very good, love how it is more or less canon, the personalities, the detail, the pov, just gorgeous! I wouldn't say I was unlucky to get the fanfic at all! More like the luckiest!!!! :glomp:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Woohoo! :tighthug: :w00t: :boogie: :heart: I'm so happy you like it! Thank you so much for your kind words! There may be more, depending on how organized I can be (I know from experience the answer is: not very. ;)) I have to finish my other fanfic, but I might come back to this when it's over. I really enjoyed the experience of writing Sev/Hermione, so thank you so much for suggesting it. I would have been too scared to try it otherwise!
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
I started to copy lines that I really liked, only to realize very early on that there were just too many. This is... really fantastic. :omg:

Still, a few that I couldn't omit:
He had friendly types of sarcasm, approachable types of irritation, even good-humoured bouts of shouting. It wasn't his fault that anger was the only emotional language he knew. Well, it wasn't all his fault, anyway.
I love the intricacy of these observations. The slow, interesting way you show Hermione learning, out of the necessity of close quarters, to read Snape is believable and beautiful.

I stared into my own horror-filled eyes.
And that was simply a cool image, especially in its context.

A confessional monologue that could have (but certainly never did) become a little too much is perfectly balanced with this Snapely remark:
As Weasley's wife, I imagine you're acquainted with the sensation.

¡Increíble! :clap: :worship:

I'm not a Snape/Hermione fan, but curiosity as to how you'd write their relationship got me to read it. And I am so glad I did.
Please, take this as a compliment: You make me want to quit writing altogether, in envy.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
You make me want to quit writing altogether, in envy. You're not allowed to do that, I need to read the end of the Ted/Andromeda story!!! Although I'm scared of what will happen, 'cause of Bella being such a psycho! :( At least we know that baby Tonks survives (for a while... :cries:)

Thank you so much for your kind words about this fic, I can't tell you how much they mean to me! I was really worried about posting this (I think because my heart wasn't buzzing with the romance of Sev/Hermione the way it usually buzzes with the romance of Sev/Lily! ;)) but I've been really overwhelmed by the positive response, and may even try to continue this now (obviously, after I've finished the other fanfic!)

(BTW, I have a title and even an ending in sight for the other fanfic! :boogie: Now I just have to hope: a) it all makes sense, and b) I can be organized enough to write it down!)

WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
Ack- that story. There was one, teeny tiny thing I had to work out in the last chapter, and I let it turn into a huge problem. If I'd just done it... but no. I had to avoid it, fret over it, and let one short scene delay me for weeks. Oy. But no worries, it's written now, and after some proofreading I'll post it. ;)
At least we know that baby Tonks survives
You're assuming the baby is Tonks... :worry:

I think it's all the more impressive that you wrote something wonderful about a pairing you're not excited over. :)

Ooh, I want to hear the title! Though the thought of an ending makes me happy and sad at the same time.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2011

Bella is not allowed to murder an unborn baby - no, no, no, no, no!

(Well, alright, I'm not trying to guilt you into a happy ending, but, if Bella does do that, I may respond by writing a chapter where she is terribly punished for no reason! ;) Although, let's be honest, it's Bella, there's never really no reason...)
stormymarie Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This has got to be one of the most "realistic" interpretations of Snape I've read. I love it! And I don't mean to be greedy there more??
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Thank you so much! :hug: I'm really happy you enjoyed it! I might continue the story - I definitely loved writing the Sev/Hermione relationship - but I have to finish my other fanfic too (it's a story about Severus and Lily's school-days, which is already about 150 chapters long so far! :faint:) But I'm nearing the end of that, and I know I won't know what to do with myself when I've finished it, so I might come back to this story afterwards).

Thanks again for your kind comments, I'm really glad you liked this chapter! :tighthug:
JanusKyot Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
That was amazing! Are you planning to write more?
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it! :hug: :) I wasn't planning to continue but, I must admit, I really loved writing this, so there might be more. I'm writing another fanfic about Sev and Lily at the moment, so I may have to wait until I've finished that one. (Severus Snape takes up a lot of my time, but I still love him! ;) :heart:)
JanusKyot Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2011
Hmmm...that's exciting. I'm glad more is still an option.
Yes, I know! I read the other one too. It's really probably the best characterization I've seen of either Sev or Lily. Thanks for the frequent updates!
ls269 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2011
:hug: Thank you so much! It makes me really happy to hear that you've been reading and enjoying the story! :dance: Next chapter should (hopefully) be ready soon!
JanusKyot Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2011
It's my pleasure. I'm also secretly hoping to encourage you to write more ;-)
Hurray for a new chapter!
ls269 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2011
Ha ha, well you've definitely succeeded in encouraging me! Thanks! :hug:
JanusKyot Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2011
Your welcome!
shyfoxling Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
Don't talk to me for another hour or so until I've had time to adjust to this loathsome state of consciousness.

Sorry, did I just see a cameo appearance for myself here? lol.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
:giggle: I think it's an attribute shared by most Snape-fans (we are definitely not morning people!)
Vizen Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Nods aggressively *drinking her third black coffee cup*
SamanthaLenore Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
More please!

Really, and I don't say this lightly. I think this is one of the best HP fanfics I've read, and definitely the best SS/HG fanfic I've read. Perfect insight into Snape, his motivations, his thoughts, his feelings, and a wonderfully fleshed out Hermione. A relationship between the two of them that actually works on so many levels, none of them cliche. Bloody brilliant!

You astound me, you really do! :faint:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
:w00t: :hug: :dance: :floating: Thank you so much! Truly, I can't thank you enough, I was soooooo nervous about posting this one - just because it's so different from the things I usually write. (I was also worried that hardcore Sev/Lily fans might hunt me down and kill me! ;)) I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Your encouragement really means a lot to me. :tighthug:
SamanthaLenore Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I sooo hope you continue this. I understand if you don't plan to, but it feels like an amazing start to what could be just a mind-blowing fic! I love SS/HG and SS/LE, so you won't hear any complaints from me :). And, I think that fans of SS/LE tend to write some really great SS/HG. You've proved to be no exception. :party:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
:hug: I guess Hermione has some Lily-like qualities without having Lily's disastrous impulsiveness! ;) Funnily enough, it didn't feel like a contradiction, writing Sev/Hermione after so much Sev/Lily, because the Severus in this chapter feels like a different man to the young Severus in my other story. I think he's been changed by the events of that story, and might not be able to join up with the snarly canon character anymore.

Anyway, I know I'll be desolate when (and, hopefully, it will be 'when' and not 'if' :fingerscrossed:) I finish the other fanfic, so this story would be a nice thing to console me. Can't just give up fanfiction altogether! If there's no Snape in my day, I don't feel right! ;)
SamanthaLenore Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:D I, for one, hope the Muse never leaves you. And yes, Hermione does tend to fit with mature, post-war Snape, and he with somewhat traumatized post-war Hermione. That it why I love the pairing so much!
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